Finding just the right gift for that special guy in your life can be challenging, particularly since traditional Valentine’s Day goodies like candy hearts and flowers are not always his style. Think outside the big box and check out these Sacramento-area small businesses for cool gifts he will truly love.
Hot Rods Chop Shop
1470 48th St.
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 769-1404

If you feel that a shave and haircut is a run-of-the-mill experience not suitable for gift giving, then you must not have heard of Hot Rods. This place is a combination of a hip man cave and old school barbershop, with the décor of a retro mechanic’s garage – even the barbering tools of the trade are kept by the chairs in gleaming red toolboxes. Give your man a gift certificate for a traditional haircut and straight razor shave, or let him opt for a line up, taper, fade or other cool cut.

The Avid Reader At Tower
1600 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 441-4400

It is rare to find an independent new bookstore these days; your Valentine will appreciate anything you find for him at Avid Reader. In addition to a wide selection of novels and autobiographies, the shop offers fascinating nonfiction works on everything from architecture and politics to home brewing and local history. Perhaps a gift basket of periodicals to suit his taste is a good idea, with current issues of magazines like Hemmings Motor News, Orion, High Times, Woodsmith, American Survival Guide, The Economist or Saturday Evening Post. Avid also carries jigsaw puzzles with the artwork of Diego Rivera, M.C. Escher, Edward Gorey and more.

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Hollywood Hardware
5303 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 455-6488

Cook’s Hardware
2125 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 922-5681

Emigh Hardware
3555 El Camino Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 482-1900

East Sac Hardware
4800 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 457-7558

Whether he is a hardcore handyman, weekend grill master or DIY dabbler, a present or gift certificate from a hardware store is sure to please. There is no need to haunt the aisles of a generic big box store for ideas, as these family owned and operated small businesses have everything you will need. There are traditional supplies and tools for plumbing, yard work, construction and electrical tasks, but these four businesses also have an eclectic selection of goods and services. At Cook’s, you can pay your electric bill amid the plush recliners, birdfeeders and televisions for sale, and Emigh has rolls of tape made of chalkboard material and Pig N’ Taters candy, made of bacon, chocolate and potato chips. Hollywood stocks things like sprinkler heads and paint, but also cast iron skillets of every size and the occasional jewelry item. Best of all, the customer service tends to be much friendlier than at anonymous chain stores.

Swanberg’s On J
2316 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 447-6284

If your special guy loves the laid-back vibe of the islands, the ever-eclectic Swanberg’s could be the best spot for his Valentine’s Day gift. Handsome and well-made aloha shirts from Reyn Spooner, Paradise Found and more are in the mix, as are other casual menswear items, baseball caps and hoodies emblazoned with the name of his Sacramento neighborhood. Hawaiian and World Beat music CDs could be just his style, or make him an island-lover’s basket with a hula dancer dashboard statue, Hawaiian calendar and tiki accessories.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
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